Players: 2 to 4
Game Length: 45 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 2-4 players who want a light tile-laying game similar to Scrabble
Qwirkle is an abstract tile-laying game that can best be described as a language-independent version of Scrabble. In 2011 it won the Spiel des Jahres, the German board game prize, and makes a good light game for those new to boardgaming that is easy to learn and quick to play, while still having strategic depth.
In Qwirkle, players will be placing tiles on the table and scoring points based on the length of the rows and columns they contributed to. On each tile has one of six shapes printed in one of six colours (for 36 total colour and shape combinations), and a set of tiles in a row must be of either the same colour or the same shape – but the same colour and shape may not be repeated in that set!
If that confused you, just look at the below picture: note that each set in a row contains only one shape, or one colour, and that no set contains a repeated piece (such as an orange diamond).
Completing a set – that is, placing all 6 different shapes of a colour, or all 6 colours of a shape – will reward a player with bonus points. You’ll have to be careful when you create a set that is 5 tiles long – you may be about to hand a bunch of easy points to your opponent! There are three tiles of each colour and shape combination, and the game ends when all tiles have been drawn from the bag. As the game progresses, you may notice that all the green circles have been played on the table, meaning that you don’t have to worry about others scoring easy points from green sets or circle sets that you contribute to.
Qwirkle is quite a dry game, and luck does play a part should you happen to consistently draw similar-coloured or similar-shaped pieces, or that last piece that completes a set of 6. Despite this, its similarities to Scrabble make it easy for anyone familiar with Scrabble to pick up and play, and the large wooden blocks make for excellent playing pieces.
Qwirkle is an excellent game for newcomers to boardgaming with broad appeal. It’s easy to teach to both children and adults, and can happily accommodate both in the same game. Though the game says it plays 2 to 4, there’s no reason you can’t play with 5 or 6 – but this will add more of an element of luck to the game. If you’re looking for a universally appealing and easy to teach game, Qwirkle comes highly recommended.